Mike Rinder once said of a man named Graham Berry that he propagates lies that “are vile beyond description.…Their purpose, as made clear by Graham Berry himself, is to use them as a threat to extort funds….”
Now, Rinder says, he “can’t speak highly enough” of the man.
The difference between the two contradictory statements boils down to one thing: money.
Berry is a lawyer declared a “vexatious litigant”—a term for someone who brings legal action solely for harassment purposes. He earned the title after racking up an egregious record of harassment and frivolous suits against the Church of Scientology, and one failed case after another.
Between 1997 and 1999, courts penalized Berry and his clients 10 times in various cases and ordered them to pay the Church or its counsel more than $100,000 in sanctions, attorney fees and costs. As one judge said to Berry in referring to the lawyer’s over-the-top, contemptible conduct against the Church: “I very seldom give sanctions—very seldom—but this is outrageous, Counsel. Outrageous.”
Berry filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid payment of his court-ordered fines.
In ruling Graham Berry a vexatious litigant in August 1999, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge told Berry: “[I]f there is such a thing on God’s green earth as a vexatious litigant, you, Sir, sadly are it.”
Berry later agreed to 18 months of suspension from the California State Bar because of a pattern of misconduct involving “multiple acts of wrongdoing.”
The repeated targets of Berry’s vexatious and frivolous lawsuits were the Church of Scientology, its leader, and various Church representatives—including Mike Rinder himself—from whom Berry was seeking to extort money to make his nuisance cases disappear.
No filing was too ludicrous for Berry. On his list of harassing litigation is a 166-page conspiracy-theory suit he filed in 1998 against U.S. President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, along with the Church, its leader and some 60 other defendants. This case, like others, was dismissed with sanctions against Berry.
Among Berry’s further vexatious and outrageous tactics was to maneuver six process servers into serving subpoenas for depositions on five artists performing at a Church charity event for at-risk youth. His record also includes paying two former Scientologists $17,450 for false testimony, and adding invented content into declarations of clients they did not authorize and knew nothing about.
Over the course of more than a dozen years, Mike Rinder ridiculed Berry both publicly and privately, assailing his integrity, his legal acumen and his sanity. At one point, Rinder wrote directly to Berry concerning his false accusations:
“You are not acting like a lawyer; you’ve become a tabloid press agent. It is clear you cannot be trusted….Doesn’t the term ‘sworn under penalty of perjury’ mean anything to you?...I know that you are either in a flight of hallucination, or that you are maliciously composing sensational ‘spaceship’ stories for the media to further your extortion plans.”
Months before Rinder walked out on the Church, he emailed a British newspaper editor when a reporter relied on Graham Berry for content. Among Rinder’s choice words for Berry was his summation of the lawyer: “Berry attempted to make his fortune by harassing the Church through abusive litigation and demanding to be paid to go away.”
That was then.
In June 2007, Rinder abandoned the Church, but did not abandon his opinion of Berry—yet. Even five years later, in 2012, he told a German documentary filmmaker that he didn’t like Berry because “I don’t think he’s honest….I don’t have a really high opinion of Graham.”
But now? When Rinder saw his own potential fortune in Berry and the lawyer’s harassing and abusive lawsuits, that all changed.
Rinder, a paid consultant in failed anti-Scientology litigation, made his Faustian bargain with Berry and conspired with him to harass and vex the Church yet again, promoting Berry’s legal services on his website and on a podcast, and bird-dogging clients for him.
“He [Berry] is doing a remarkable service,” Rinder now says of the man who had bedeviled him for more than a decade. “I can’t speak highly enough for what he has managed to accomplish.”
Berry reciprocated in kind, gushing in March 2023 about his association with Rinder that he is “in some very esteemed company!”
For Berry, all roads keep leading to failure. But for Rinder, a bargain is a bargain.